“Do what it takes for as long as it takes to restore a broken life”: Supporting Hagar International, by Deirdre Dobson-Le

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Don’t fall into Cambodia’s orphanage trap, Australians told, by Lindsay Murdoch

1451208080232-1Phnom Penh: Tara Winkler, a former NSW Young Australian of the Year, says it is “highly unethical to expose vulnerable children to serious risks in order to engage donors and raise funds”.

Ms Winkler says potential abusers are not being vetted among a high volume of visitors to Cambodia’s 600 orphanages and children’s residential care centres who are allowed to physically interact with children in intimate ways, such as playing games and hugging.

“Even though the majority of people who want to visit centres are good people who only want to help, if they are allowed in to provide love and affection, then the same access is provided to potential predators and sex tourists,” she said.

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Children at a Phnom Penh orphanage. Photo: Lindsay Murdoch

Fairfax Media has reported that strangers can walk uninvited off the street into a Phnom Penh orphanage, where they are greeted in bedrooms with children trained to engage visitors and encourage them to donate money.

A record 47,900 children are living in orphanages and residential care centres in Cambodia, despite research showing that the institutions scar their emotional and personal development through seemingly endless broken relationships, and that they should be living with their families in their own communities.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.smh.com.au/world/dont-fall-into-cambodias-orphanage-trap-australians-told-20151222-glt8ae.html

Simplifying Childhood may protect against Mental Health issues, by Tracy Gillett

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When my Dad was growing up he had one jumper each winter. One. Total.

He remembers how vigilantly he cared for his jumper. If the elbows got holes in them my Grandma patched them back together. If he lost his jumper he’d recount his steps to find it again. He guarded it like the precious gift it was.

He had everything he needed and not a lot more. The only rule was to be home by dinner time. My Grandma rarely knew exactly where her kids were.

They were off building forts, making bows and arrows, collecting bruises and bloody knees and having the time of their lives. They were immersed in childhood.

But the world has moved on since then. We’ve become more sophisticated. And entered a unique period in which, rather than struggling to provide enough parents are unable to resist providing too much. In doing so, we’re unknowingly creating an environment in which mental health issues flourish.

When I read Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting one message leapt off the page. Normal personality quirks combined with the stress of “too much” can propel children into the realm of disorder. A child who is systematic may be pushed into obsessive behaviours. A dreamy child may lose the ability to focus.

Payne conducted a study in which he simplified the lives of children with attention deficit disorder. Within four short months 68% went from being clinically dysfunctional to clinically functional. The children also displayed a 37% increase in academic and cognitive aptitude, an effect not seen with commonly prescribed drugs like Ritalin.

As a new parent I find this both empowering and terrifying. We officially have a massive opportunity and responsibility to provide an environment in which our children can thrive physically, emotionally and mentally.

So, what are we getting wrong and how can we fix it?

THE BURDEN OF TOO MUCH

Early in his career, Payne volunteered in refugee camps in Jakarta, where children were dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. He describes them as, “jumpy, nervous, and hyper-vigilant, wary of anything novel or new.”

Years later Payne ran a private practice in England, where he recognized many affluent English children were displaying the same behavioural tendencies as the children living in war zones half a world away. Why would these children living perfectly safe lives show similar symptoms?

(To read more, please follow the link below…)

http://raisedgood.com/extraordinary-things-happen-when-we-simplify-childhood/

Back To Basics: Raising Children In The Digital Age, by Richard Freed

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“This is impossible,” Emily, the mother of three boys, exclaimed. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to give my kids more technology or less.” Emily felt paralyzed because she was caught between digital-age parenting advice and what her heart told her was right.

Online articles claimed that children need freedom with gadgets, but she knew a number of teens who spent their lives on their phones, spurned their families, and suffered from emotional problems. Emily was also dubious of promises that devices are the key to kids’ success, as she knew more than a few game-obsessed 20-somethings who still lived with their parents and showed no signs of being productive.

The Surprising Science of Raising Happy, Healthy Kids

In meeting with parents like Emily, I acknowledge the confusion about what is good parenting in the digital age. For guidance, I suggest looking to the science of raising healthy children. What it’s revealing is extraordinary: that even amid the trappings of our tech-obsessed culture, children’sconnections to family and school are still the most important factors in their lives. In other words, it’s time we get back to the basics.

There are other elements of raising healthy children, including engaging kids in creative and outdoor play, and showing them what it means to be a good friend. We also need to teach kids self-control and how to use technology productively. Yet, children are better able to acquire these abilities if they have strong connections with family and school. Children learn the value of nature when parents expose them to the outdoors. And kids acquire self-control, or grit, by persevering through challenging school assignments.

The Two Pillars of Childhood

Family is the most important element of children’s lives — even in this world of bits and bytes — because we are human first. We can’t ignore the science of attachment that shows our kids need lots of quality time with us. Such experiences shape children’s brains, and they foster our kids’ happiness and self-esteem, while diminishing the chances that they will develop behavior or drug problems.

Second in importance only to family is children’s involvement with school. Nevertheless, some question the value of traditional schooling, claiming that in the digital age kids learn best through exposure to the latest gadgets. But, according to the Pew Research Center, the value of a college education is actually increasing in recent decades, providing youth higher earning potential and significantly lowering their risks of unemployment or poverty. And how do colleges gauge admission? Not through high scores on video games or the number of social media friends, but instead by measuring kids’ understanding of the learning fundamentals taught in school, including the ability to read, write, and do math well.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

Back To Basics: Raising Children In The Digital Age, by Richard Freed

The Death Question: when your child asks “will you die?” By Anca Aurora Deaconu

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Children become aware of death at a young age, sometimes younger than we’d expect or are comfortable with. So when your child asks “will you die?” it can be hard to deal with. Hand in Hand Instructor Anca Deaconu’s son first showed his concerns through play.

“We were having special time and I was his old cat, one that he was afraid might die soon,” she says.

Not long after that, he started to ask specific questions about my grandfather, who passed away and about a dog I used to have. Later, when I got stung by a bee, he expressed his fear openly.

Will you die, mommy?

His questions haven’t stopped there. “Who would take care of me if I die,” he asks.

I tell him about the big, caring family that we are blessed with. I also mention the fact that I plan on being around for a long time and am actually actively working on that – it’s the reason we are careful about what we eat and why we spend so much time outdoors taking all those long walks, I tell him. These are things we do to help us lead long and healthy lives, I explain.

In her book, Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting ChallengesHand in Hand’s founder Patty Wipfler explains that avoiding children’s fears can be counter-productive: It’s better to face them head on, she says.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.handinhandparenting.org/2016/06/child-asks-will-you-die/

Five things pediatricians want dads to know about how important they are to their kids, by Megan Daley

 

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Pediatricians have a message for fathers: You’re more important to your child’s health and well-being than you — and we — might have realized.

After assessing more than a decade’s worth of psychological and sociological research, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a new report about fatherhood and the things doctors can do to help the nation’s 70 million dads reach their full parenting potential.

Fathers aren’t just back-ups for moms. Their presence in their children’s lives is beneficial in and of itself.

For instance, a 2012 study in the journal Development and Psychopathology looked at pairs of sisters who had differing levels of father involvement. Researchers found that the chances of teen pregnancy and other early sexual experiences were lower for daughters who spent more quality time with their dads.

A review of multiple studies found that kids who grew up spending time with their fathers were less likely to have behavioral and psychological problems. They were also more likely to be independent, intelligent and have improved social awareness.

See the most-read stories in Science this hour »

“The role of fathers, and fatherhood, is in the process of changing,” said Raymond Levy, a clinical psychologist and executive director of the Fatherhood Project at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Traditional roles are merging, with moms spending more time in the workplace and dads spending more at home.

The new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics takes an expansive view of fatherhood. It defines fathers not merely as men who sire children, but as the male adults who are most invested in the care of a child. That can include a biological or adoptive dad, a stepfather or a grandfather.

Here’s further proof that modern dads don’t necessarily resemble Jim Anderson, the insurance salesman patriarch of the TV series “Father Knows Best” — today, fathers account for 16% of America’s single parents, a number that totals 1.9 million. In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that nearly 200,000 married fathers are stay-at-home dads.

The authors of the new report considered the special needs of specific groups of fathers, including those in same-sex relationships, those coping with military deployment and those who have spent time in prison.

“We’ve looked more broadly at our totally diverse groups of fathers,” said lead author Dr. Michael Yogman, a practicing pediatrician who studies father-child relationships at Harvard Medical School. “We’ve realized it’s really important to encourage fathers to be involved.”

Here are five things dads can do to take their parenting to the next level.

Be a role model

Children look up to their fathers and have a tendency to imitate their behaviors. That’s why pediatricians want dads to be conscious of how the actions they take — whether it’s lighting a cigarette or buckling a seat belt — will influence their children as they grow and learn to make decisions on their own.

Fathers should get involved with their kids right from the beginning, by playing with them or just talking to them. That lets them see their dads as supportive companions and teachers.

“The old expectation that men were inadequate mothers, and that they had to do everything just like mothers did with young children, was unfair,” Yogman said.

He encourages fathers to find their own relationship with their children and figure out what works best for them.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-fathers-pediatricians-20160613-snap-story.html

International Women’s Day… so important for children of both genders too! By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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March 8th is International Women’s Day.  Here at “The Forever Years” we feel it is important to have a post acknowledging this special day, as the lives of women children are so closely linked.

The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. 

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International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.  On this day we honour and celebrate the progress of women in the past, but also look towards the future and examine how things can be further improved for women (and the children they care for) around the globe.

Various women, including political, community, and business leaders, as well as leading educators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and television personalities, are usually invited to speak at various events on the day. Such events may include seminars, conferences, luncheons, dinners or breakfasts. The messages given at these events often focus on various themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, or the importance of education and career opportunities.  Many students in schools and other educational settings participate in special lessons, debates or presentations about the importance of women in society, their influence, and issues that affect them.

Much progress has been made to protect and promote women’s rights in recent times. However, nowhere in the world can women claim to have all the same rights and opportunities as men, according to the UN. The majority of the world’s 1.3 billion absolute poor are women. On average, women receive between 30 and 40 percent less pay than men earn for the same work. Women also continue to be victims of violence, with rape and domestic violence listed as significant causes of disability and death among women worldwide.

The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York.  The day has since become recognised internationally and is also the focus of annual United Nations Conferences, addressing issues which affect women (and, so very often, their off spring).  A recent report  in the USA found that 80.6% of single parents are women and this is thought to be similar across the globe.  With the improvement in the situation of women and a focus on this by both male and female there is, by definition, also an improvement in the lives of all children, both boys and girls.

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International Men’s Day is also celebrated on November 19 each year.

Related Links:

http://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme

http://www2.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/international-womens-day

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/international-womens-day

 

How to Raise Kids With Virtually Indestructible Inner Strength, by Sunita Ramkumar.

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Did you know that Oprah Winfrey had an abused and neglected childhood followed by troubled adolescence peppered with drugs, teenage pregnancy, depression and even attempted suicide?

Today though, we know her as a larger-than-life figure with more success than most of us can imagine.

And yet, for every Oprah, there are thousands of kids, if not more, who didn’t make it. Oprah’s own half-sister for instance, died of reasons related to cocaine addiction.

Why is this? Why is it that some people have virtually indestructible inner strength that pulls them out of the direst circumstances while others crumble under far less complicated circumstances?

Is this inner strength something we can nurture in our kids?

Maybe our goal isn’t to raise the next Oprah, but can we make sure that no matter what life throws at them our kids will face it like champs and come out stronger for it?

I believe that small everyday experiences help in sculpting us and building that core of inner strength within us.

Inner Strength in Facing Everyday Challenges – A Simple Example

Let me share an experience about my 8 yr old daughter. It’s a rite of passagekind of challenge that all our kids face at some time or the other during their school years – you’ve probably had a similar experience too.

One day in school my daughter had a slight tiff with her friend and playmate.  Her friend was apparently more upset than her about the incident. The next day, her friend gathered a few other playmates and instigated them to gang up to confront my daughter.

As my daughter would tell me later, her first instinct at being caught unaware in this way was to either cry and run away from the situation or lash back at them in hurt and anger. A typical flight or fight response to feeling betrayed and singled out.

Instead of immediately reacting though, she took a moment to respond. She pulled her tiny self all straight and calmly stood her ground. She looked her friend in the eye and apologized for unintentionally hurting her. And then as calmly as she could, she pointed out to the others that there were simply no issues between them and her.

I was so proud of this response from her. I’d like to think that all our mom-daughter talks about “being strong inside” helped.

This is not an everyday reaction from a child. Her friends weren’t expecting it. They had expected her to be scared, angry or upset.

The whole situation turned around quickly after that. Within moments they had put the whole thing behind them and were back to playing together again.

That day when she came home, she had this huge smile on her as if she had won a big battle! I couldn’t be happier.

It may seem trivial to us grown-ups, but this was a very significant experience in my daughter’s life – a ‘win’ on top of which future wins can be built. A narrative to pull out in the face of future adversities.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://afineparent.com/strong-kids/inner-strength.html

How to Foster a Positive Self-Image in Your Child (in a World of Social Media Pressure), by Jean Merrill

Autumn fun - lovely girl has a fun in autumn park

When you think of your sweet child fending off social media pressure, does your heart nervously flutter a little?

Does the thought of these negative influences leave you hoping (praying) they’ll solidly, confidently, know themselves and the RIGHT thing to do?

Can we give them the tools to see through negative influences with superman-like laser vision?

Peer pressure is reaching new levels of influence in this digital age, where bullying can happen behind the veiled, impersonal curtain of an electronic device.

By the time our children have their first Facebook account, we hope to have instilled in them enough of a sense of self that they can objectively evaluate any peer-to-peer situation. We hope that they already have a strong foundation in communication skills, and firm grasp of their personal values. We hope that they internally know the right things to do, and are confident in the courage of their convictions.

This will give them the voice required to face interpersonal challenges and the ability to stand up for themselves, and those around them.

We can help our kids develop that strong sense of positive self-image. By starting early, and with a few language tricks, we can plant deep roots from which a strong, independent, confident, sense of self will grow.

Self-image in Toddlerhood. Is that a “Thing?”

Self-image is definitely a “thing” is toddlerhood, and *gasp* even before!  According to Dr. Sears, in his piece 12 Ways to Raise a Confident Child, it is never too early to start, and the sooner the better.  He states that the lack of a positive self-image often leads to behavior problems, and that “In the early years, a child’s concept of self is so intimately tied up with the mother’s concept of herself that a sort of mutual self-worth building goes on.”

So, start with your own sense of self worth.

*Groan* I know, but stay with me here… in the middle of the exhaustingly intense infant and toddler years, taking some time to work on yourself can be a key element in the long-term positive esteem for your whole family.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://afineparent.com/strong-kids/positive-self-image.html

5 Ways to Give Your Children a Voice, by Rachel Macy Stafford

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By Rachel Macy Stafford 

1. Stop moving and stop doing when they speak to you

By looking up from the task at hand and looking into your children’s eyes, you are indicating you value their thoughts, no matter how trivial. This provides both a foundation and an invitation for more difficult conversations as they grow.

* Tip: If your days are full and you cannot give your undivided attention whenever your child speaks, make sure there is a time of day when you can be ALL there. Maybe it is at bedtime or right afterschool.

When my older daughter was 3 she began asking for “talk time” at night. It involved ten minutes of her asking innocent questions and telling me trivial things and me giving her my undivided attention.

She is now 12 and we still have “talk time” every night. As one would expect, the questions and topics have become more serious, and I am grateful to be part of the conversation.

2. Respect their words.

Maybe it takes time for them to put their thoughts into words. It’s okay; you don’t have to finish their sentences—they will come. Maybe their opinion is completely nuts. It’s okay; you don’t have to agree. Maybe they remember something differently than the way you do. It’s okay; you don’t have to be “right”. By giving them the time and space to share what’s on their hearts, you are strengthening their voice.

3. Let them speak for themselves whenever possible.

When my children have something they want to tell the coach, the waiter, or the sales clerk, I first let them practice what they want to say and then they are encouraged to speak for themselves.

I will never forget when we were sitting at my child’s fifth grade parent/teacher conference and the teacher asked if we had any concerns. My daughter quietly spoke up to say she loved helping her classmates but there was one student who made her feel very uncomfortable.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://kindnessblog.com/2015/08/27/5-ways-to-give-your-children-a-voice-by-rachel-macy-stafford/